A Week As Indiana Jones in Belize

Author: , October 28th, 2010
by Sharyn Brinker, Mariposa Jungle Lodge Ltd., San Ignacio, Belize
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Like Indiana Jones in Belize

Belize ZiplineOkay. You think you’ve done it all. You’ve traveled Belize. You’ve seen the Maya archaeological sites. You’ve snorkeled or dived at the fabulous reef. You’ve heard the howler monkeys and spotted iguanas along the Macal River. You’ve even survived the drives along off-roads that would be worthy of a ticket at Disneyland. What’s left?

BelizeAway from the cayes and Placencia, Belize is a young, scarcely developed country, fertile with new exploration opportunities. Tour operators and licensed tour guides are always looking for yet another unique destination for their guests. And they continue to find them.

A daring Purple Roofs subscriber asked the proprietor of Mariposa Jungle Lodge for suggestions for a week of “borderline risky” experiences so he could escape his professional world and transform his persona into Indiana Jones. He was physically fit, adventuresome and looking for challenge. As they say in the Cayo region of Belize, “No problema.”

BelizeInasmuch as this was his first trip to Belize, he spent a few days on Caye Caulker. From there, he snorkeled with the nurse sharks at Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley, and went scuba diving at the Blue Hole. Then, off to the jungle in Cayo, where he experienced the basics, i.e., a day at the great Maya site at Caracol, a hike through the awesome Rio Frio Cave, a horseback ride and cave descent in the jungle, a day at Tikal in Guatemala. At Caracol and Tikal, he climbed every temple and soaked up the historical, cultural and aesthetic offerings. At Big Rock, he climbed the rocks and dove into the natural pool.

Belize CavesWith the basic cultural and tourist destination visits under his belt, Indiana moved on to mountain biking. Mountain biking in the Cayo jungle is not for the novice or feint of heart. The paths are rugged and the environment often untouched by human development. At times, it’s easier to push the bike than ride it. At other times, the mud might make pushing the only option. A stop to tour the temple at Xunantunich is a welcome relief and Indiana climb 130feet of tall steps to enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view of Cayo and nearby Guatemala. Undaunted, he climbs and descends before continue his mountain biking.

Having ascended to the heights of Caracol and Xunantunich, Indiana is assured he won’t get the bends from descending to Xibalba at Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM). But lots of adventuresome travelers have survived ATM. Indiana wants more. He’s taken to Crystal Cow Cave, where only the serious spelunker and physically fit adventurer can venture. He thrived on climbing, crawling and rappelling.

So he’s taken to Elijio Panti Park for a day-long hike along less than well-trimmed trails. Most visitors opt for horses, but not Indiana. It was strictly his own two feet, along with those of his intrepid guide, as they sloshed through the mud and ignored the rain, in their quest to visit a great Maya Ceremonial Cave. This cave is known to locals but not often visited because of its inaccessibility.

Belize CaveBut, another special treat was in store for our Intrepid Indiana. He was guided to another cave that was “being considered” for tourist access by the relevant government officials. He and his guide entered the cave, crawled, climbed and explored, and exited as satisfied spelunkers who’d “beaten the system” until they met the local Forest Ranger near the exit. Fortunately, the Ranger was “visitor friendly” and congratulated Indiana on his exploit. Perhaps it was helpful that the gentlemen had met during dinner at Mariposa Jungle Lodge.

Most nights were spent dining and relaxing at the Lodge, but one night found Indiana night canoeing on the Belize River in search of crocodiles and jungle wildlife. It was a quiet night. Peace reigned. A few kinkajou were spotted by an especially alert guide.

Indiana’s 13-day trip was long by average standards but cut short for him by limited airline availability. Among the adventures he left behind are a day at Calico Jack’s Village, for ziplining, hiking and exploration of two recently open caves, each with outstanding formations.

Mariposa Jungle Lodge, BelizeFor the discerning and experienced traveler who is seeking a great jungle experience, Mariposa Jungle Lodge is a boutique resort, centrally situated for visits to all the sites in the Heart of Cayo. Its licensed tour operation offers both popular and unusual excursion options, including a “Let’s Get Physical” package for the Indiana Jones adventurer. Located on an unexcavated Mayan mound, beneath the jungle canopy, each Mariposa luxury cabana is beautifully furnished with king size bed, sitting area, screened-in porch and private hammock.

Mariposa lives by the motto, “Adventure by Day and Comfort by Night.” Sumptuous full breakfasts and theme-based 3 or 4 course meals are offered in the main lodge building, where guests also enjoy a fully-licensed bar, a reasonable wine selection, a good sound system, a cozy library with eclectic book collection, complimentary wireless Internet, and a separate screened-in room with jungle view to reserve for that special, romantic, private candelightdinner. Guests can also reserve the 23-foot jungle birdwatch tower for private sunbathing, evening stargazing, or overnight in sleeping bags, or join the staff in a jungle gourmet BBQ dinner under the stars. Management, staff, and all tour guides employed, are gay and lesbian-friendly. Guests are promised personalized service, excellent food, peace and privacy, and an immaculate, comfortable, romantic, friendly environment.